Charlene Li in her blog reports that Forrester’s new brief, “Podcasting Hits the Charts” indicates that only 1% of online households or 700,000 regularly use podcasts. The real benefit that consumers see is "time shifting" or being able to listen to content when they want. The Forrester report indicates that the majority of people listening to podcasts are not listening to new audio streams but rather those they already were interested in. While this utilization data isn’t very promising, Charlene suggests that companies utilize podcasting to re-purpose existing audio content (training programs, earnings reports, executive presentations, press briefings). CNET had some discussion of this story as well along with Business Week in their Blogspotting Blog.
We are seeing more discussion of podcasting as a marketing medium with recent stories by Entrepreneur Magazine on “Using Podcasting to Promote Your Site”, a good example of this trend. Brian Carroll's B2B Generation Blog also talks about using podcasts to generate leads. I’ll be interviewed on the radio on Madison’s WIBA 1310AM on April 23rd on the In Business with Jody and Joan Show and have requested a digital recording so that I can add a single “podcast” on my site.
Podcast Alley, a podcast directory meanwhile lists 17,388 podcasts in their index with many of these having multiple episodes. Some business usages for podcasts include examples like Disney using one to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Disneyland and Jupiter Research's recent podcast on Web 2.0. An interesting implication of Podcasting is the negative impact it has had on NPR fundraising as listeners avoid hearing the fundraising pitch and elect to listen to the podcast instead according to a recent Wired article.
My read on podcasts is that consumers are showing greater interest in video streams then audio alone. Business people in turn enjoy the on demand or participative nature of webcasts. For consumers we've seen the phenomenal growth of YouTube supported by the data on the number of videos that are being viewed as reported by the Online Publishers Association (see my earlier nibblet). Both of these support that there is a preference for audio-visual media. Video blogs or vlogs like Rocketboom can be more engaging then audio tracks alone.
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and demonstrating several educational or informational podcasts with talking heads and have found many of them to be somewhat boring given their lack of visual cues or more dynamic audio presentation styles.